The Killers unveiled their sophomore Island Def Jam album, “Sam’s Town,” at a media gathering last night (July 24) in New York that drew label chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Def Jam head honcho Jay-Z. As previously reported, the follow-up to 2004’s “Hot Fuss” will arrive Oct. 3; the single “When You Were Young” is at radio now.
The set doesn’t stray far from the sound introduced on “Hot Fuss,” with its throbbing bass lines, jagged guitar blasts, vintage synth flourishes and singer Brandon Flowers’ theatrical phrasing. Two potential singles, “For Reasons Unknown” and “Read My Mind,” are close relatives to the propulsive pop of the band’s breakthrough single, “Mr. Brightside.”
Elsewhere, “Uncle Jonny” experiments with the dark, midtempo rock perfected by the Verve, while the influence of David Bowie and early Peter Gabriel hover above the dramatic “My List” and “Why Do I Keep Counting?” Two short piano-driven pieces, “Enterlude” and “Exitlude,” find Flowers asking after the well-being of the listener: “Outside the sun is shining / seems like heaven ain’t far away / It’s good to have you with us / even if it’s just for the day.”
Material for “Sam’s Town” was initially worked up during soundchecks, guitarist Dave Keuning told Billboard.com afterward. “We used to play about an hour extra in soundcheck and throw around ideas,” he said. “Five or six songs made it out of that but another 10 or 12 were thrown away.”
Keuning admitted there are “at least four great B-sides,” including some tracks he “really wanted to make the album. They’ll wind up on places like iTunes,” he said.
The Killers will tour North America in October and begin a European jaunt in November. For the first time, the band will be augmented by an extra musician on stage, the Las Vegas-based multi-instrumentalist Ted Sablay. “He will be for us like Pat Smear was for Nirvana — he’ll play keys, guitar and sing a little bit. It will help us match the live versions a little closer to the album.”
Here is the track list for “Sam’s Town”:
“When You Were Young”
“For Reasons Unknown”
“Read My Mind”
“This River Is Wild”
“Why Do I Keep Counting?”